LAS CRUCES – Las Cruces recently welcomed a new coin shop on Missouri Avenue which specializes in vintage coins, trade tokens and bullion investments.
Gary Henderson and his son-in-law, Joseph Santana, officially opened Las Cruces Coins & Collectibles July 22 with prize drawings and gifts for children lasting through the weekend.
They have collectible coins — including silver dollars and Indian Head pennies — and they buy and sell precious metals. Bullion-type coins such as gold Buffalos and silver Eagles are offered for those interested in investing.
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New Mexico trade tokens are another category of collectibles in store. Henderson explained that these tokens were used during the 1880s to the 1940s by businesses as a type of coupon. They were often used to trade good with Native Americans. He said there are over 2,000 different tokens from the state for various businesses and the shop has an inventory of about 500 available.
Henderson’s father used to collect trade tokens in Iowa, and Henderson himself has written several books on the topic.
Gold and silver Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta medals as well as artwork and photography by local artists Becky Smith and Lori Smith are also available.
Collecting has been a long-time hobby of both men. Henderson said he started collecting Lincoln pennies with his cousin when he was around 9 years old. Santana’s love of collecting started with baseball cards in the 1980s and soon expanded to other items such as carnival glass and Morgan Silver Dollars when he discovered estate sales.
“We had a 9-year-old come into the shop, even before we were open, and he’s collecting Lincoln pennies and some other things,” Henderson said. “It was fun to see my history replayed in someone that came into the shop.”
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Henderson said he always wanted to open a coin shop in town, “to provide something to the community that I think’s been missing.” He is a retired pharmacist who worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. His family moved to Las Cruces over 30 years ago and liked the area so much they decided to stay.
Santana and his family recently moved into the area from Colorado, making it the ideal time to start this family business. He is quite knowledgeable in the bullion market and stacking silver and gold. His 10-month-old daughter Lucy is a driving force for his own investment in gold and silver.
“I’ve literally started buying silver for her future, basically,” Santana said. “Bullion’s just another way to have a diverse portfolio as far as investing goes.”
He advised that stacking is all about quantity for the lowest prices. Lucy will likely make frequent appearances at the shop, Santana said. And if she so chooses, this new family shop will become hers one day.
Both men mentioned a local collector’s group that meets monthly to show and discuss their personal items. Henderson said many people have items at home that they’re interested in better understanding the worth of and potentially selling. Their shop gives people a place to expand their interest and knowledge of their own collections.
They said they are also excited to foster a love of collecting in Las Cruces particularly among the youth.
However, Henderson has a mantra for those considering selling items.
“Number one: if you like what you have, keep it. Number two: if you don’t necessarily want it but your kids may want it, keep it and give it to your kids,” he said. “Number three: if you don’t want it and your kids don’t want it, let me at least give you an appraisal of what it’s worth, and let you decide if you want to use that value for something else in your life.”
Las Cruces Coins & Collectibles is at 2615 B Missouri Ave., next to Nopalito Restaurant. They can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phone at 575-571-7526. They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah on Twitter.